• Benjamin

TravelClef Goes To USA

Hi Everyone!

This is Benjamin, Co-Founder of TravelClef. Since it is the start of a brand new year, I thought I should be the one to kickstart 2019 with our very first blog entry!

Looking back at the past year, there were many victories and milestones which we are grateful for and we have many stories that we would love to share. But if I were to start talking about every event, I could write an entire autobiography on it!

So to keep it short (I hope), I would like to talk about this special milestone that got me really excited and humbled at the same time.

At TravelClef, we call ourselves the Travelling Music School, because we travel around to different companies to conduct our music team building with programmes. We have even conducted our programmes overseas in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and in Dec 2018, we made our first venture out of Asia!

We were invited to New York!

We were first engaged in 2017 when we conducted a Music Jam in Sentosa.

They enjoyed it very much and I remembered after the programme, one of the participants, Chris, approached me and asked if I would be interested to conduct our programmes over in New York.

I replied, "Yes sure! That would be really exciting!"

Initially I didn't really think too much about it and thought that nothing was going to happen. I simply took it as a compliment that they really enjoyed our programme.

About a year later, Chris surprised us with an email to discuss bringing us to New York to conduct a team building programme for his Global Logistics team!

At first, we met with some issues because December was our super peak period and he contacted us only 1 month prior to the scheduled event. As a result, we didn't have much time to plan.

But it was specifically this message that he sent which made me really determined to make it work:

"... I understand if we can’t make this work and you prefer to wait for the new year. Do not feel pressured. I have waited this long, we will make it work at some point!"

So with that, I handed over some of our projects to our Chief Instructor, Kun Loong (who never disappoints), and also handed the planning of our Ukulele Passport Workshop Graduation to Edmund (Our other Co-founder).

To be honest, I have never travelled out of Asia and was feeling rather apprehensive and uncertain, and felt even more so because I was travelling alone! But I was relishing the challenge and was extremely excited to represent TravelClef on this global opportunity.

My flight there on the relatively new Singapore Airlines flight (18 hours directly to NewArk) was very smooth and comfortable :)

When I reached NewArk, I was beaming with excitement and felt a little nervous because I had to take a Taxi to a private airport.

It was quite cold when I exited the airport (Around -5 Deg) and I met with my first hurdle! The taxi driver did not seem to know where my destination was, as it was a remote location. But luckily, I gave him the postal code and we managed to navigate via Google Maps and got to where I needed to be, well ahead of my flight schedule.

Having lived in Asia for 30 years, I have never seen snow in my entire life! So when I reached the airport, I got a little excited when I saw some snow! (Well, not really, it was on top on some cars and if that's all I get to see, at least it's still something.. haha).

When I spoke to my liaison (CS) from the company, he told me that it only snowed the previous week. So I wasn't expecting too much, though I was still constantly praying for snow!

As the aircraft hovered above my destination, I suddenly saw a scene which I only saw in movies...

As I arrived, I was picked up by a private taxi arranged by the company and went straight to my lodging at Hilton Garden Inn, where the event was going to be hosted the next day.

I was expecting to stay in the hotel and to perhaps roam around the area on my own, but C.S. contacted me and asked to meet me in the lobby. After welcoming me, he brought me out for a short walk and asked if I would like to visit the Museum, which was owned by the company. Since I had nothing much else to do, I accepted his offer and his ticket to the museum before he left to go back to work.

The museum was really mind-opening and I saw some interesting things which intrigued the engineer in me (In case you didn't know, I majored in Mechanical Engineering in school).

After spending about 2 hours or so in the museum, I decided to roam the streets and explore this serene-looking town. Here are some pictures that I took of this beautiful place! :)

Later on, I was invited by Chris and C.S. to have dinner with their team and to join them for drinks at a bar opposite the restaurant. Even though I was really tired after not sleeping for close to 27 hours, I was enjoying the time with this fun and outgoing team, so I obliged to the drinks as well.

And I am so glad I agreed to it!

As we walked out of the restaurant, I was blessed with 5 minutes of falling snow...

The night was still young and we continued mingling in the bar, playing pool and the team was dancing and singing to this really cool Jukebox and Snapchatting away! Of course, I also took the chance to understand the type of music that they liked so I could teach them the songs during the ukulele team building the next day.

After the long night, I went back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the event.

And here are the tuned Alegria Uk13C ukuleles for the Ukulele Passport Workshop!

The team had 3.5 hours available for the team building session, so aside from our usual 2 hour Ukulele Workshop, I included a "Lyricise" component where the teams altered the lyrics to their assigned songs! And I must say, we had such a good laugh at their lyrics! Witty, cheeky and funny!

I ended off the programme with a summary and debrief of the programme, as well as some personal observations.

This programme was very different than the usual programmes I conducted, because this time, I had a lot of time to mingle with the team and I even got to know a few of them personally! So I had a lot more to share with them, including Chris, who was their leader there.

After bidding my new friends goodbye, I received a personal message from Chris. In my entire 7 years of conducting team building programmes for companies, it was one of the strongest and most heartfelt reviews that I have ever received.

This trip may have been short, but I have gained a lot from it, on both a personal level and a corporate level.

This journey also solidified my belief and conviction that what we do at TravelClef not just impacts lives by allowing adults to fulfil their dreams of playing an instrument via our public workshops, but also impacts teams, team members, and even leaders in companies.

We will continue to create more programmes and impact more lives in the many years ahead!

Check out this short preview of my journey to New York.

If you'd like us to bring music and joy to your company in Singapore or overseas, feel free to contact us here for a non-obligatory discussion.

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